This project addresses the assessment of possible gene transfer from genetically modified organisms (GMO-plants and-microorganisms) to the microflora of the food chain. for appropriate implementation of national and EU regulations, there is still a lack of knowledge concerning the transfer of non-equivalent DNA. The risk of horizontal gene transfer will be addressed based on the outcome of the exploitation of several donor recipient combinations in different environments. Therefore we will use food models, models which mimic the ecological habitat in the rumen and human gastro-intestinal tract. In this coordinated project we will study all parameters involved in horizontal gene transfer. All data resulting from the different tests in the variety of model systems will yield validates model systems for studying HGT.
The principal aims of the project proposed here, is to provide a risk evaluation based on scientific knowledge and evidence concerning the frequencies and consequences of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of marker genes to bacteria present in the food chain and human microflora as a basis for the safety evaluation of transgenic crops and microorganisms in food. Apart from analysis of transfer frequencies, hazards will be identified, exposure data will be collected and the impact will be addressed to quantify the risk of HGT and to be conclusive. Therefore, data on transfer frequencies will be related to the nature of the transgenic food, the stability of DNA in the food matrix, and the gastrointestinal tract, the daily intake of a transgenic food, the frequency of a particular gene in nature, and the relevance of a particular marker gene in terms of selective pressure. In addition, the project will also focus on standardisation of methods and systems used for the safety evaluation of transgenic food with respect to HGT